Public Health

Public Health Champion Awards

Since 2008, the Public Health Champion Awards have been recognizing the efforts of individuals and organizations based on their leadership towards reducing health inequalities, fostering collaboration to improve the health of the population, building community capacity through innovative health promotion strategies, and acting as a catalyst for positive change. 

One individual and one organization will be recognized with the Public Health Champion Health in 2016. Recipients will be selected based on demonstrated achievements in one or more of the following four areas:

  1. Providing leadership in efforts to reduce health inequalities.
  2. For example:
    • advocating for public policies that address determinants of health
    • contributing to the expansion of public health evidence and knowledge base
  3. Fostering collaboration to improve the health of the population.
  4. For example:
    • strengthening partnerships across sectors and among diverse groups
    • developing knowledge exchange strategies to promote awareness and deepen commitments to public health
  5. Building community capacity through innovative health promotion strategies.
  6. For example:
    • advancing new approaches to cross-cultural communications
    • empowering marginalized and vulnerable populations
  7. Achieving impact by acting as a catalyst for positive change.
  8. For example:
    • mobilizing resources to respond to an emerging public health issue
    • affecting improvements to public health indicators or outcomes

The award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting and promoting the health of Toronto's residents.

Awards are presented to one individual and to one organization. To be eligible for nomination, an individual must be a resident of Toronto and organizations must be located in Toronto. Current and former members of the Board of Health as well as current and retired Toronto Public Health staff are not eligible.


Nominations are reviewed and assessed by a sub-committee of the Board of Health.

For more background information on the award, please see the May 2008 Board of Health Report (PDF).

Q: Can I nominate myself or my own organization?
A: No, you cannot nominate yourself or your own organization. You can seek an outside party to submit a nomination on your behalf.

Q: Can I nominate more than one individual or organization?
A: Yes, you can nominate more than one individual or organization.

Q: I am a City of Toronto employee, can I submit a nomination?
A: Yes, provided that the nominee is external to City of Toronto divisions and programs. However, City of Toronto employees cannot provide letters of support for nominees.

Q: I am a City of Toronto Employee, can I or my program be nominated?
A: No, the PHCA is to recognize individuals and organizations external to the City of Toronto who contribute to public health.

Q: If I or my organization have been nominated for the PHCA in previous years, can we be nominated again?
A: Yes, you can be nominated in subsequent years. However, you cannot receive the award more than once.

Q: Can I or my organization receive the PHCA more than once?
A: No, an individual or organization may only receive the award once.

Q: I work with a small community group, can this group be nominated?
A: Yes, small community groups/coalitions can be nominated. Small or Large organizations will be assessed by the nomination committee.

Q: I work with an individual who is making health promoting changes in his/her building, can I nominate him/her?
A: Yes, contributions large or small will be assessed by the nomination committee.

Individual: Walter Cavalieri

Individual Winner Walter Cavalieri

Walter Cavalieri has been a pioneer in the area of harm reduction for the past 30 years. As the founder and director of the Canadian Harm Reduction Network, his efforts to reduce the social, health and economic harms for those who use drugs has had a profound impact in our communities. In the 1990s, Cavalieri was instrumental in launching the first needle exchange in Toronto. This work has helped reduce the number of overdose deaths and reduce HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C transmission. Cavalieri was also instrumental in spearheading "Reciprocal Learning" a program that recognizes that users are experts and can teach those who deliver health care, social programs and drug policy. Cavalieri's activism and insights have helped shape the development of local and national public health policy to improve the lives of vulnerable and marginalized individuals in our communities.

Organization: Toronto Distress Centre

Organization Winner Toronto Distress CentreThe Toronto Distress Centre is part of the oldest suicide prevention agency in Canada. Founded in 1967, its dedicated team of volunteers has provided telephone-based crisis intervention support to vulnerable and at-risk individuals for 50 years. The Centre receives more than 120,000 calls a year and offers a variety of services including a 24/7 hotline, support for individuals and families affected by homicide and suicide, and programming for isolated and marginalized individuals, particularly seniors. The Toronto Distress Centre also operates a suicide prevention program in the City's subway network. Through this broad range of work, the Toronto Distress Centre provides mental and emotional support in our communities that saves lives and builds a better city.

Individual: Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller has shown remarkable leadership and dedication through her research and activism with the Canadian Environmental Law Association and as Co-Chair of the Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition's Environmental and Occupational Working Group. Her work on the Community Right to Know bylaw led to the creation of Toronto Public Health's reporting program ChemTRAC, which collects yearly data from local businesses and institutions on 25 priority substances that exist in the city's air at levels of concern for health. These efforts have helped raise awareness of the impact that environmental contaminants have on public health, contributed to public discussion and had a lasting influence on healthy public policy.

Organization: Agincourt Community Services Association

Agincourt Community Services Association (ACSA),  a non-profit, multi-service agency for children, youth, seniors, newcomers, homeless and underserved communities, has been an instrumental part of the community for over 50 years. Through addressing public health issues such as income and income distribution, employment, early childhood development, food insecurity, social exclusion and social safety, and harm reduction, ACSA has acted as a catalyst for positive change. Through its work with the Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program, ACSA has helped improve public health indicators and outcomes in an effort to reduce health inequities. 

Individual: Floydeen Charles-Fridal

Floydeen Charles-Fridal has shown exceptional leadership through her work with Rexdale Community Health Centre and as President of the Board of Directors at TAIBU Community Health Centre. She helped develop of many of TAIBU's innovative programs, including its dental and oral health, sickle cell, diabetes education and peer nutrition programs. Her efforts have improved access to health services for many of the city's residents.



Organization: Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services

Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services has been a dedicated champion of community health for over 20 years. Supporting new residents and racialized communities in Toronto, Access Alliance has been instrumental in establishing a medical clinic to provide health care services to these under-served populations. The organization has also been a key partner in collaborations with other service agencies, community organizations and research institutions, with the goal of increasing dialogue and engagement around the issue of accessible health care and services. 

Past Winners

These are just a few of the individuals and organizations that have received the Public Health Champion Award in previous years. For a complete list of recipients, visit the PHCA Recipient page.